WHAT 401K? Half of Americans have no retirement account. Many who have such accounts have scant savings.

Here, from the Washington Post, is a story not likely to lift your Christmas spirits.

It’s about the end of the private sector pension, exacerbated by the lack of retirement accounts and longer life expectancy. It means many people are working well into retirement years (the lead is a 79-year-old Walmart greeter with a back problem).

I remain surprised that the Republican-dominated Arkansas legislature hasn’t moved as some states have to curtail or even eliminate public sector pensions and their high cost in taxpayer contributions. Perhaps it’s because legislators qualify for them — and, if they land a fat state job later it ratchets up the payments even more.

From the Post:

Advertisement

The trouble with expecting workers to save on their own is that almost half of U.S. families have no such retirement account, according the Fed’s 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances.

Of those who do have retirement accounts, moreover, their savings are far too scant to support a typical retirement. The median account, among workers at the median income level, is about $25,000.

“The U.S. retirement system, and the workers and retirees it was designed to help, face major challenges,” according to an October report by the Government Accountability Office. “Traditional pensions have become much less common, and individuals are increasingly responsible for planning and managing their own retirement savings accounts.”

The GAO further warned that “many households are ill-equipped for this task and have little or no retirement savings.”

The GAO recommended that Congress consider creating an independent commission study the U.S. retirement system.

“If no action is taken, a retirement crisis could be looming,” it said.

Merry Christmas, y’all.